Category Finances

Smart Mom Rich Mom

Product DetailsSmart Mom, Rich Mom: How to Build Wealth While Raising a Family
by Kimberly Palmer
AMACOM
Retail Price:  $14.95
Amazon Price:  $6.94

Book Description:   Of all life’s financial shocks, few compare to bringing home an infant. Just one tiny person costs $250,000 to raise– not including college! How will you pay for it? That agonizing question fuels mothers’ choices about their careers, budgets, and families. Some lean in, some scale back or seek new opportunities–there are no easy answers . . . but lots of rewarding possibilities. “Smart Mom, Rich Mom” explores how women today are navigating the financially challenging career/parenting years. Written by a national money columnist and mom of two, the book chronicles people who have stayed in the game–full-time, freelance, self-employed, and more–and emerged more prosperous and empowered. “Smart Mom, Rich Mom” mines their experiences to uncover both career advice and spending and savings strategies that everyone can use. Stories, checklists, action steps, planning tools, and more explain how to:

– Prepare financially for parenthood–whether you’re expecting your first child or your third

– Balance thrift with generating income and investing wisely

– Find flexibility at work while safeguarding your earning potential

– Save for both college and retirement despite increased expenses

– Plan for unexpected events, like a layoff or illness

– And much more

Kids change our lives, adding joy but draining bank accounts. “Smart Mom, Rich Mom” helps you adopt healthy habits–and make hard decisions–that pay off in abundance.

Review

This is a fantastic book for mom’s who not only want to stay in the game, but make the best financial decisions for their family.  While I am an “empty nester”, I lead a group of entrepreneurial women in a monthly class. Most of them are young mom’s trying their best to take care of their kids and still contribute financially to their household.  I purchased this book for them to read and was very pleased with it.  I wish I had this advice when I was a young mom. It’s direct, applicable and gives practical advice for mothers on how to be smart about money. Thrift is the best use of all your resources — including money AND time — so mommy savings tips need to expand from coupon-clipping and into longer-term investments.  Moms can feel overwhelmed thinking about and planning for the future, but the author makes it “doable” by sharing her own experience, while also drawing on others’ stories.  The best part is that you can walk away from this book with clear ideas about how to take better ownership of your family’s finances. This is  must-read for women, mom’s and mom’s-to-be and even an old timer like me found so much to learn!

~Reviewed by Allie B.

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    Retire Inspired

    Product DetailsRetire Inspired
    By Chris Hogan
    Ramsey Press
    Retail Price: $24.99
    Amazon Price: $18.69

    Book Description:  When you hear the word retirement, you probably don’t imagine yourself scrambling to pay your bills in your golden years. But for too many Americans, that’s the fate that awaits unless they take steps now to plan for the future.

    Whether you’re twenty-five and starting your first job or fifty-five and watching the career clock start to wind down, today is the day to get serious about your retirement.

    In Retire Inspired, Chris Hogan teaches that retirement isn’t an age; it’s a financial number—an amount you need to live the life in retirement that you’ve always dreamed of. With clear investing concepts and strategies, Chris will educate and empower you to make your own investing decisions, set reasonable expectations for your spouse and family, and build a dream team of experts to get you there.

    You don’t have to retire broke, stressed, and working long after you want to. You can retire inspired!

    Review

    I was a little hesitant to read this book on planning for retirement because usually these types of books are written by financial guys who have made a lot of money and will have no worries in retirement.  In this case the author does not come across this way, but writes in a helpful, down to earth way, giving advice and tips on how to get where we want to be so we can retire comfortably.  He encourages us to set our own goals and take steps necessary to make these goals our reality.  As you do this, the author is confident that you will be able to retire in a way that will help you maintain your current lifestyle.  The younger you are, the better this book is for you because you will have more time to stash enough money aside. But I’d recommend to anyone who is nearing retirement age as well.

    ~Reviewed by Rich W.

     

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      Total Money Makeover

      Product DetailsTotal Money Makeover
      By Dave Ramsey
      Thomas Nelson
      Retail Price:  $24.99
      Amazon Price: $15.31

      Book Description:

      If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.

      Build up your money muscles with America’s favorite finance coach.

      Okay, folks, do you want to turn those fat and flabby expenses into a well-toned budget? Do you want to transform your sad and skinny little bank account into a bulked-up cash machine? Then get with the program, people. There’s one sure way to whip your finances into shape, and that’s with The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition.

      By now, you’ve heard all the nutty get-rich-quick schemes, the fiscal diet fads that leave you with a lot of kooky ideas but not a penny in your pocket. Hey, if you’re tired of the lies and sick of the false promises, take a look at this?it’s the simplest, most straightforward game plan for completely making over your money habits. And it’s based on results, not pie-in-the-sky fantasies. With The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition, you’ll be able to:

      • Design a sure-fire plan for paying off all debt?meaning cars, houses, everything
      • Recognize the 10 most dangerous money myths (these will kill you)
      • Secure a big, fat nest egg for emergencies and retirement!

      Review

      I love all things Dave Ramsey does because he always does them so well!  In this book you will find good, sound financial advice that will help you get your finances in good shape. It’s the same good, sound financial advice that financial advisers have been repeating for decades. To his credit, at the end of this book Ramsey discloses that what he teaches are time-tested financial principles and nothing that he has made up himself (which is comforting to know, actually, and also I gained a lot respect for him because of that statement). He just packages it in an appealing way that makes it easy to read and apply these principals.

      ~Reviewed by David M.

       

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        Delaying Social Security Could Increase Lifetime Income

        For those who are nearing retirement age can increase their lifetime income if they can wait a bit to start drawing Social Security benefits.  It is between the ages of 55 to 64 when folks start thinking seriously about retirement.

        Workers can start taking Social Security at age 62. But for those who can wait, the benefits go up.

        “If you need Social Security early, take it – you’ve earned it,” said Virginia Reno with the National Academy of Social Insurance, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. “But waiting even a year or two can make a big difference in the long run. The extra benefits are there for life.”

        Payments increase by 5 to 7 percent for each year of delay between ages 62 and 66, and by 8 percent for each year of delay between ages 66 and 70. The increases stop at age 70.

        For someone who can wait until age 70 to take Social Security, the reward is a lifetime monthly benefit that is 76 percent higher than if taken at age 62.

        For example, a worker who qualifies for a Social Security benefit of $750 at age 62 would receive $1,000 by waiting until full retirement age (66 for people born in 1943 to 1954). By waiting until age 70, the retiree would receive $1,320 a month.

        The higher benefit would also be the basis for future inflation adjustments.

        Around New York, only about one in three residents who are currently receiving Social Security retirement benefits waited until full retirement age to start their payments, according to the Social Security Administration.

        Getting the most out of Social Security benefits becomes more important the longer retirees live, said Leticia Miranda, a policy adviser with the National Council of La Raza, a nonprofit that focuses on Hispanic issues, including retirement.

        “You may be here longer than you think,” Miranda said.

        About half of seniors aged 65 to 69 get most of their income from Social Security. Many have other assets or work part time. But for three out of four seniors in their 80s, Social Security is the main source of income.

        Nationally, a woman who is 65 years old today can expect to live until she is 86. For men, it’s 84 years.

        Another consideration is how the timing of benefits will affect a spouse’s income, Reno said.

        “If you are the higher earner in a couple, delaying benefits not only means a higher benefit for you for the rest of your life,” she said. “It also means a higher benefit for your spouse if she or he outlives you in old age.”

        In more than half of couples who are 65 today, one spouse will live beyond 90, she said.

        But residents of nonmetropolitan areas  may have a harder time delaying their retirement.

        “In rural areas there is often a challenge as folks move toward retirement,” said Deanna Sharpe, a personal finance professor at the University of Missouri. “They are more likely to face unemployment. Jobs are not as available. And when they are, they tend to pay less.”

        Economic downturns can also affect when people decide to start receiving Social Security, Sharpe said.

        “One of the coping mechanisms during the recent recession was to pick up Social Security at age 62, even if they might not have planned to do that before the recession,” she said.

        Retirees need to make informed decisions, Sharpe said, but too often that doesn’t happen.

        “We find in surveys of financial literacy that quite a large portion of folks don’t understand the basics,” she said. “That’s a concern.”

        But retirees can easily find free or low-cost advice. Sharpe said many USDA Extension Service offices can provide information on retirement planning. She also recommended nonprofit organizations such as the National Endowment for Financial Counseling and Financial Education (www.nefe.org).

        The Social Security Administration website (ssa.gov) has a calculator that allows workers to estimate their retirement earnings based on their own work records and estimated retirement age.

        And the National Academy of Social Insurance has materials online about the impact of delaying Social Security benefits (www.nasi.org/WhenToTakeSocialSecurity).

        With national discussions about Social Security frequently in the news, some workers may worry whether the system will be there when they need it. Sharpe said people should stay abreast of the issues. “That’s part of making an informed decision,” she said.

        But Reno said that should not influence a personal decision about when to draw benefits.

        “Social Security will be there if you wait,” she said. The system is fully financed for about the next two decades and is three-quarters financed thereafter, she said.

        “Despite what you may hear, lawmakers have some good options to fix the system for the long haul,” she said.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        Tim Marema is editor of the Daily Yonder (www.dailyyonder.com), a national website that covers news about small cities and rural America.

        Roberto Gallardo is an associate professor at the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

        Support for the research and production of this article was provided by the National Academy of Social Insurance. The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the Daily Yonder, which is published by the Center for Rural Strategies, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Whitesburg, Ky.

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          Smart Money Smart Kids

          Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money

           Smart Money Smart Kids
          By Rave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze
          Lampo Press
          Retail Price $24.99
          Amazon Price: $18.98

          Book Description: 

          Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze teach parents how to raise money-smart kids in a debt-filled world.In Smart Money Smart Kids, financial expert and best-selling author Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze equip parents to teach their children how to win with money. Starting with the basics like working, spending, saving, and giving, and moving into more challenging issues like avoiding debt for life, paying cash for college, and battling discontentment, Dave and Rachel present a no-nonsense, common-sense approach for changing your family tree.

          Review

          This combination parenting and personal finance book helps parents teach their children key money skills–such as saving, spending, budgeting, investing, and donating–that they’ll need to become financially secure adults. This book will help you teach your kids what money can buy–from school supplies to fun and games; how credit cards work and why NOT to use them, ways to watch money grow. Saving money isn’t about a piggy bank anymore. This book will teach kids all they need to know about the “green” they earn so they can save or spend it wisely.

          ~Reviewed by David H.

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            A Paycheck or Manna

             Standing at the edge of Lake Michigan, in the quaint little town of Suttons Bay, my cell phone rang, interrupting a serene moment of my vacation.  It was my employer.  She informed me that the department I had worked in was closed and my position had been eliminated.  I could pick up my severance check when I returned to California.

            “Wow, Lord,” I said with a sigh after hanging up the phone.  Raising my son, as a single mom in my early 50’s, just got more challenging.  The sky was blue with patchy clouds and my ten year old was enjoying the aqua water as he splashed around in the bay.  I saw no reason to ruin the vacation.

            Upon returning home, I set about the business of finding another job, conserving my finances to make sure we could survive the downward swirl of a faltering economy.  Needless to say, I prayed and prayed and prayed.

            Three months went by before I was hired in a slightly different field than what I had been doing for the last 30 years.  My salary was commission only, with a potential to earn substantial amounts of money.  In reality, the “potential big bucks” never arrived.   Though I was learning new skills, my income for that year was less than half of what I had been earning annually at my previous job.  I had been looking for a better place of employment, while I was working, but couldn’t find any position that paid more than I was already making.

            Another telephone call informed me that I had been laid-off and my position eliminated at my current workplace.  This time, finances were much more strained.  There were no more savings and debts had been rising as I supplemented my income to take care of my family.  I had gambled on trying to wait things out, hoping the economy would start to recover and I would be able to return to my field of expertise.  I had gambled and it looked like I just lost.

            “Now what do I do, Lord?” I looked up with a very worried glance at the sky.

            As far as I knew, I was trying to do all the right things.  I was trusting in God to take care of me.  I knew the verses in the Bible where the Lord promised to provide for the needs of those that believed on Him.  While I waited for God to come through for me, I was trying to find a job, trying to be responsible and willing to take any type of employment that would enable me to support myself and my child.  Here I was again, after a fifteen month struggle, without income and without prospects.  This time the tears flowed.

             “Hope deferred, maketh the heart sick:…” (Proverbs 13:12a).  Man, I could relate to that one!  I could barely read the promises of God.  They felt like I was being teased.  I do believe God’s Word is true.  I was wrestling with the “when” factor.  I know God’s timing is perfect and I should be able to rejoice in that knowledge.  But while one is hurting and waiting for a speedy answer and not getting one, well, that is the tough part.  It makes the pressures of life almost unbearable.

            On my way to the accountant’s office, to get my taxes figured, it was overcast and drizzling.  The weather provided a perfect reflection of my mood.  I saw two rainbows as I drove on the freeway.  The flood is over?  Their significance didn’t escape me, but I couldn’t regain my hope for better things to come.  I was discouraged and couldn’t rise above my looming desolation.

             “Since you made so little money this year,” my accountant leaned back in his chair, “you’ll receive all of your taxes back,” he finished triumphantly.

            I knew the amount of my tax refund money would support me for 2-3 months, but I could barely thank God for it.  I cried over the fact that I wasn’t very grateful.  It felt like my trouble had only been stalled for another few months.  The problem still existed.

            “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed” (Psalm 37:3).    I had read this verse in a book on sermons from one of my favorite preachers, one morning a few days after my trip to the accountant’s office.  That same afternoon a friend emailed me the same verse.  When I get a scripture or some lesson or fact presented to me twice from completely unrelated sources, I pay attention.  There were two separate rainbows the day of my deep despair and now this verse was offered to me twice in the same day “…that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established” (Matthew 18:16).

             “What do I really want?” I thought or maybe it was a still small voice.

            “I want to know money is coming in on a regular basis,” I answered myself.

            “How long of a guarantee would you like?” the thought or still small voice countered.

            I mulled over the question.  Does a paycheck every two weeks mean stability?  After losing two jobs, I knew that wasn’t true.  A job or a paycheck is still just one of the ways the Lord provides for us.  Its perceived security makes one relax and rest.   But what if God wanted to meet my needs in a far different way?   What if He just sent me money, like he did food or Manna to the children of Israel in the Old Testament?   The people had no evidence of provision, only God’s promise that He would feed them – everyday.   And the Lord did just that for forty years!

            It would feel crazy, yes, and insecure because there is no way to know where the money would come from.  Yet, how many Christians have successfully lived their lives trusting in God?  The Lord may meet needs in ways that seem normal, like conventional employment, or in methods that are strange and very uncomfortable, because there is nothing tangible to rely on.  Either way, God wants us to trust Him moment by moment, day by day, month by month and year by year.  Jesus instructed the disciples to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).

            Because I am not quite ready to go out on a limb and then saw it off, I am continuing to look for a job.  As I send out my resume and network with people to see if I can become gainfully employed again, I pray often for the Lord to bless these efforts.   He knows that I desire to work and provide for my family.  But I am also watching God to see what He is doing.  I have noticed, besides the huge tax return, that other expenses have lessened and I have run across unexpected reductions in prices of items just at the time I needed to purchase them.  I’ve had a few individuals come up to me and give me money, stating God told them to do it.  Others have secretly paid for things that I needed.

            Most of us have stories of strange provisions in our lives.  It has probably happened more than we realize, because we don’t consider such things to be manna from God.  Choosing to look at whatever I receive in life as directly from God’s hand, be it explainable by a standard paycheck or the unexplainable, breeds a grateful heart. It also brings an awareness of God’s love for us, His personal involvement in our day-to-day lives and that He does mean what He says.

            I’m starting to wonder about this “manna” thing: “…he that gathered much had nothing left over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating” (Exodus 16:18b).  There is a ‘gathering” aspect to this whole provision of God.  I can see that I need to be involved in the process.  There is action to be undertaken on my part.  Therefore, I will go out into the workplace, gather up what I can and see what the Lord has for me.  If that translates to a regular paycheck, I don’t think I will be looking at it the same as I once did.

            “Manna,” which means “What is it?” has a sense of wonder to it.  It is an unknown marvel that is beneficial to the gatherer and her family.  I believe there is Manna for me every morning until I can obtain the employment that I am actively pursuing.  When I start back to work again, in my heart, I will be grateful for another form of “Manna!”

            Karen S. Reimer makes her home, with her 12 year old son, in Southern California.  She is an Escrow Officer by trade and a writer at heart.  Her favorite subject is the grace of God.  Her book, “Out of Weakness, Made Strong,” was published in December, 2006.  Karen is currently working on her second book and writing freelance articles on various websites to encourage other Christians.
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